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Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger the New Pope: Benedict XVI

Arthur_Vandelay

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Walter said:
What about "she" is and always has been an - almost - entirely political and quite mundane institution?
Absolutely: conservatism is an ideology. Capitalism is an ideology. Propertarianism is an ideology. Individualism is an ideology. Faith in the free market is an ideology.

Mrs Maggott said:
As for the death penalty, I have noted that many Christians understand it to be a necessary adjunct of the "godly State".
According to the Houston Chronicle, Benedict XVI is likely to continue Vatican opposition to the death penalty:

Catholic leaders and scholars said Tuesday that they expect that new Pope Benedict XVI will continue his predecessor's strong opposition to the death penalty. Noting that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was one of Pope John Paul II's key policy people, they said he was clearly supportive of the former pontiff's condemnation of a "culture of death" that includes capital punishment. The stance prompted John Paul II to write then Gov. George W. Bush asking for clemency for death row inmates.


After all, change for the sake of change has no legitimacy since the change could - and probably would - be for the worse!

Tradition for tradition's sake, similarly, has no legitimacy.


Do those advocating change mean that they want the Church to be more in line with the world?

I would say, rather, that many Catholics (and others) wish that the Church would, in some respects, "bring itself into line" with the needs and concerns of its flock.


Are they looking for more "collegiality" - and by that I mean more "democracy" within the Church? Again, the Church is not a "democratic" institution.
Neither should it be a dictatorship. Pace Walter, I take this opportunity to once again pose a question I asked in the thread on Pope John Paul II.

Are democracy and the free exchange of ideas good things in themselves? If so, why are they not good for the Church? Or are they only good in certain contexts? Why those contexts, and not others?

The desire for openness and collegiality is a desire for simply that, openness and collegiality, not for the rule of the majority. Majorities--even "informed" majorities (since we're really talking about priests, bishops and theologians here)--can only tell you what is popular, not what is right. But this does not legitimate the silencing and punishment of dissenting voices. The Bill O'Reillian doctrine of "SHUT UP!" is even less a guide to truth than the will of the majority.

Yet, when something is created that works, change for the sake of change can do more harm than good.
That does not apply in this case, since (a) nobody desires change "for the sake of change" (what a patronising strawman!), (b) those who desire change obviously perceive that on certain issues Church policy isn't working.

If advocates of change are trying to realize His vision of the Church more fully, then at least any changes being considered will have Christ as their moving force. If, on the other hand, there is another agenda, then "orthodox" Christians - whatever their denomination - should be wary indeed of those changes.
Since you appear to have no evidence that there is "another agenda" at work, why not give them the benefit of the doubt?

Frankly, unless you understand the meaning that the Church has for Her adherents, you will continue to fail to understand why there is so much resistance by believers to the type of "change" that is usually meant when people demand "relevance", "tolerance" and all the other "p.c." stuff that unbelievers want to see in the Church.
And here we hit the core of the problem for so many who feel alienated and marginalised by the Church. Relevance and tolerance are "p.c." issues, and therefore, not legitimate. And those who are concerned about them are "unbelievers." If this is indeed the Church's position (and one hopes--giving Benedict XVI the benefit of the doubt--that it is not), then to those Catholics who do seek relevance, tolerance, openness, respect, and the understanding the Church is saying: "Your concerns are illegitimate, and you are unbelievers!" Can you appreciate, then, why many Catholics feel alienated by their Church?
 
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Arthur_Vandelay

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The National Catholic Reporter has a great profile on the new Pope:

The Vatican's enforcer: A profile of Cardinal Joseph Ratizinger

By John L. Allen Jr.

[size=+1]C[/size]ardinal Joseph Alois Ratzinger was born in rural Bavaria on April 16, 1927. Perhaps it is fate that the day was Holy Saturday and his parents were Joseph and Mary -- eerie foreshadowing for a child who would grow up to become a stark sign of contradiction in the world's largest Christian church.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope April 19. He took the name Benedict XVILike so much else about Ratzinger, how far to press that biblical parallel is contested. Some say his 18 years as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the church's guardian of orthodoxy, have been the intellectual salvation of Roman Catholicism in a time of confusion and compromise.

Others believe Ratzinger will be remembered as the architect of John Paul's internal Kulturkampf, intimidating and punishing thinkers in order to restore a model of church -- clerical, dogmatic and rule-bound -- many hoped had been swept away by the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 assembly of bishops that sought to renew Catholicism and open it to the world. Ratzinger's campaign bears comparison to the anti-modernist drive in the early part of the century or Pius XII's crackdown in the 1950s, critics say, but is even more disheartening because it followed a moment of such optimism and new life.

At the most basic level, many Catholics cannot escape the sense that Ratzinger's exercise of ecclesial power is not what Jesus had in mind.

Beneath the competing analyses and divergent views, this much is certain: Ratzinger has drawn lines in the sand and wielded the tools of his office on many who cross those lines. Whether necessary prophylaxis or a naked power play, his efforts to curb dissent have left the church more bruised, more divided, than at any point since the close of Vatican II.

Those divisions have made Ratzinger a lightning rod. An anecdote from the mid-1980s underscores the point.

In May 1985, Ratzinger notified Franciscan Fr. Leonardo Boff that he was to be silenced. Boff, a Brazilian, was a leading figure in liberation theology, a Third World theological movement that seeks to place the church on the side of the poor. Boff accepted Ratzinger's verdict and withdrew to a Franciscan monastery in Petrópolis, outside Rio de Janeiro.

Some days later, a sympathetic Brazilian bishop visited Boff to make an unusual proposal: Boff should study all of Ratzinger's writings, including the just-published Ratzinger Report (a book-length interview with an Italian journalist in which Ratzinger voiced gloomy views of church and world), and then draw up an indictment accusing the cardinal of heresy. It would be a theological form of fighting fire with fire.

The conversation was reported by Harvard theologian Harvey Cox in his 1988 book on the Boff case. According to Cox, Boff said he wouldn't subject anyone else to the kind of inquiry he had faced.

Nevertheless, the fact that a Catholic bishop could seriously envision pressing charges of heresy against the church's top doctrinal officer -- even if it was more a political gambit than a sober theological judgment -- illustrates Ratzinger's remarkable power to polarize. "

His record includes:

  • Theologians disciplined, such as Fr. Charles Curran, an American moral theologian who advocates a right to public dissent from official church teaching; Fr. Matthew Fox, an American known for his work on creation spirituality; Sr. Ivone Gebara, a Brazilian whose thinking blends liberation theology with environmental concerns; and Fr. Tissa Balasuriya, a Sri Lankan interested in how Christianity can be expressed through Eastern concepts;
  • Movements blocked, such as liberation theology and, more recently, religious pluralism (the drive to affirm other religions on their own terms);
  • Progressive bishops hobbled, including Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle, reproached by Rome for his tolerance of ministry to homosexuals and his involvement in progressive political causes, and Bishop Dom Pedro Casaldáliga of Sao Félix, Brazil, criticized for his political engagement beyond the borders of his own diocese;
  • Episcopal conferences brought to heel on issues such as inclusive language and their own teaching authority;
  • The borders of infallibility expanded, to include such disparate points as the ban on women's ordination and the invalidity of ordinations in the Anglican church.
Indeed, it would be difficult to find a Catholic controversy in the past 20 years that did not somehow involve Joseph Ratzinger. Part of that is the nature of the job, but no other 20th-century prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith -- perhaps none ever -- has enjoyed Ratzinger's high profile or his centrality to the life of the church. He and John Paul are men who believe that ideas count, and Ratzinger has prosecuted what he considers dangerous ideas with vigor. Whether his tactics and ironclad sense of certainty are more dangerous than the ideas he has attempted to suppress is a question that cuts to the core of some of the deepest divisions in the church.

After extensive interviews with leading Catholics, both friends and foes of Ratzinger from the United States and abroad, and after digesting thousands of pages of his writings and writings about him, three key insights about Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger -- Ratzinger the Vatican official, if not the man -- seemed to surface repeatedly:

  • He sees his work as a defense of human freedom;
  • He is convinced that he and John Paul are the rightful heirs of Vatican II;
  • He believes time is on his side.
It's important to try to understand Ratzinger on his own terms, not merely as a historical exercise, but because believers who see the church as he does -- "Ratzinger Catholics" -- are likely to be a force long after the cardinal himself is gone.
Click here for the full article

Also worth reading: "Outline of a Ratzinger papacy"
 

Mrs. Maggott

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I have merely tried to elucidate why many Christians do not believe it is proper or correct to do as many wish to do; that is, "modernize" the Church to reflect popular opinion no matter how laudable the reasons of those who wish to do so. I and many others believe the Church to be "timeless" and that the truths instilled in Her by Christ and His Apostles - yes, including Paul whose letters set out quite clearly what the Church is and should be - do not need the assistance of worldly philosophy or the current "Spirit of the Age". That is all I intended to do.

But, you know, it is useless to speculate and pontificate (no pun intended) upon the matter if you dismiss out of hand the cherished beliefs of persons directly involved in the situation! For those not in the Church, ignoring believers - including Pope Benedict - is not going to help them to understand the situation or come to grips with what actually exists and why. Nor is it helpful to focus exclusively on those claiming membership in the Church who look upon her as simply one more "human institution" that should be routinely reinvented and "updated" with the passage of time. If they are going to be the yardstick by which one measures how things stand in the Church, then it is no wonder that so many people simply "can't understand" why it's so difficult to get in a few changes for the sake of making everybody happy!

In any event, for those who aren't so engaged in their own point of view that they are unable to consider any other, I hope my comments have shown why what seems so "reasonable" to many people is not only "unreasonable" but "anathema" to believers. That is all that I intended to do and I have done it. If, however, you are of the opinion that my opinion represents a miniscule minority of Christians and that just about everyone else with the exception of Pope Benedict and a few elderly Italian Cardinals (who will all soon die anyway) would be pleased as punch to make the Church into a "progressive paragon", the joy of non-believers and the world, then, as it says in Murphy's Law, you simply don't understand the situation.
 

Arthur_Vandelay

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Mrs Maggott said:
In any event, for those who aren't so engaged in their own point of view that they are unable to consider any other, I hope my comments have shown why what seems so "reasonable" to many people is not only "unreasonable" but "anathema" to believers. That is all that I intended to do and I have done it.
Mrs M, we are considering your views and the proof of that is that we have engaged with them and have responded to them. That you persist with this false dichotomy of "believers" and "unbelievers" demonstrates that you are not prepared to do us the same courtesy. In any case, that we may disagree with your views does not mean that we have ignored them. It's OK to disagree.

If, however, you are of the opinion that my opinion represents a miniscule minority of Christians and that just about everyone else with the exception of Pope Benedict and a few elderly Italian Cardinals (who will all soon die anyway) would be pleased as punch to make the Church into a "progressive paragon", the joy of non-believers and the world, then, as it says in Murphy's Law, you simply don't understand the situation.
That you seem to be of the opinion that anyone has been appealing to the majority here is further indication that you simply have not understood our posts.

Can we get back to talking about the Pope now?
 
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Barliman Butterbur

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Other reactions to the new Pope

For reactions by other religions and paths to the new Pope, go to http://www.beliefnet.com/.

Are you happy with the new Pope? Vote yes or no at http://www.beliefnet.com/pope.html

Ever wonder what your spiritual type is? find out at http://www.beliefnet.com/section/quiz/index.asp?sectionID=&surveyID=27

Mrs. Maggott said:
...those...so engaged in their own point of view that they are unable to consider any other...
Fascinating. You have (albeit inadvertently) just described yourself.

Barley
 

Arthur_Vandelay

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Here's something I didn't know:

From the Independent:
Those who know Joseph Ratzinger say he is a man of kindness, of sharp intelligence, who could sometimes be a moderating influence on John Paul II. After all, it was he who opposed John Paul II's desire to make teaching on birth control infallible.
The word around the campfire (if a homily he gave prior to the conclave is anything to go by) is that the new Pope hopes to revitalise the Church in Europe (it had of course been in decline there--and elsewhere in the West--on his watch as Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith) by waging a war on secularism and on what he calls the "dictatorship of relativism" (an oxymoron). Incidentally, non-relativist ideologies such as Marxism, liberalism and individualism get tarred with the "relativist" brush here.

According to an article on this topic on Beliefnet:
"He thinks relativism is something that happens when people live in pluralism," says William Portier, a theologian at the University of Dayton who specializes in Catholic intellectual thought. "It's like an occupational hazard-you begin to think in this way because you have to live with all these different people."

I think Benedict is misguided in his campaign against relativism and secularism, which have nothing to do with fascism or dictatorship (both of which are NOT RELATIVIST), and which are essential to religious freedom and religious harmony--neither of which can survive for long in a climate of moral absolutism and uncritical dogmatism and in which certain religions are granted political, legal and cultural privilege. I think many Europeans understand this; indeed, I think many Catholics understand this. And I think it will only be to the Church's detriment if under Benedict's papacy it sinks further into the mire of the culture wars.
 
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Barliman Butterbur

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Vatican condemns Spain gay bill

The Vatican, under the new leadership of Pope Benedict XVI, has condemned a Spanish government bill allowing marriage between homosexuals.

The bill, passed by parliament's Socialist-dominated lower house, also allows gay couples to adopt.

A senior Vatican official described the bill - which is likely to become law within a few months - as iniquitous.

He said Roman Catholic officials should be prepared to lose their jobs rather than co-operate with the law.

The bill would make Spain the first European country to allow homosexual people to marry and adopt children.

The full article is at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4473001.stm

Barley
 

Arthur_Vandelay

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First casualty of Benedict XVI?

Jesuit Thomas Reese, the editor of Catholic magazine America, has resigned. More from the http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/05/08/news/pope.phpNew York Times:



Vatican Is Said to Force Jesuit Off Magazine


By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Published: May 7, 2005
An American Jesuit who is a frequent television commentator on Roman Catholic issues resigned yesterday under orders from the Vatican as editor of the Catholic magazine America because he had published articles critical of church positions, several Catholic officials in the United States said.

The order to dismiss the editor, the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, was issued by the Vatican's office of doctrinal enforcement - the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - in mid-March when that office was still headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter, said. Soon after, Pope John Paul II died and Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope, taking the name Benedict XVI.


America magazine, a weekly based in New York City, is a moderate-to-liberal journal published by the Jesuits, a religious order known for producing the scholars who run many of the church's universities and schools. The Jesuits prize their independence, but like everyone in the church, even their top official, the Jesuit superior general in Rome, ultimately answers to the pope.

In recent years America has featured articles representing more than one side on sensitive issues like same-sex marriage, relations with Islam and whether Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should be given communion. Church officials said it was the publication of some of these articles that prompted Vatican scrutiny.

Father Reese, in a statement yesterday, confirmed his departure but gave no indication that he was resigning under duress: "I am proud of what my colleagues and I did with the magazine, and I am grateful to them, our readers and our benefactors for the support they gave me. I look forward to taking a sabbatical while my provincial and I determine the next phase of my Jesuit ministry."

Catholic scholars and writers said in interviews yesterday that they feared that the dismissal of such a highly visible Catholic commentator was intended by the Vatican as a signal that debating church teaching is outside the bounds.
 

joxy

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Barliman Butterbur said:
The Vatican, under the new leadership of Pope Benedict XVI, has condemned a Spanish government bill allowing marriage between homosexuals.
A "condemnation" which I, a gay man, strongly welcome, and take as a very good sign of the way the Church will continue under its new, but ever apostolic, leadership.

Gay "marriage" remains the nonsense, and the non-issue, that it has always been.


Chrysolophax:
You make two points on the previous page:
"Christ was all about change"
and
"It's not like the Church is a living entity".

Those points are incorrect.
This is not a criticism, as there is no reason why you should know, if you have not studied the subject.
Mrs M has answered both points, corrected both errors, from the point of view of the Orthodox Church. I echo them, from that of the Catholic.
Christ came to "remind" people of the eternal truths, which had been changed and needed to be returned to their origin.
It is now for His representative on earth, the Church, to resist the new changes which are continually being attempted.
The Church is a living entity; the body of Christ here on earth and in heaven.
The idea of Holy Mother Church is of an ancient tradition; that the appropriate capitalised pronoun is "She" ought to appeal to the politically correct!
 
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Arthur_Vandelay

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joxy said:
Gay "marriage" remains the nonsense, and the non-issue, that it has always been.
The Vatican doesn't appear to think so. Something about an "ideology of evil . . . ?"

Incidentally, the Vatican position on same-sex marriage appears to rule out same-sex civil unions (or partnerships) also:

In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection. (Source)

Cardinal Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, stated last year that
"Recognition of 'de facto' unions . . . which are a legal fiction, proposing same-sex unions as an alternative to marriage, and inventing new, unacceptable notions of marriage to the point of accepting the adoption of children, are grave signs of dehumanization." (source)
 
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joxy

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Arthur_Vandelay said:
The Vatican doesn't appear to think so. Something about an "ideology of evil . . . ?"

Incidentally, the Vatican position on same-sex marriage appears to rule out same-sex civil unions (or partnerships) also:
Yes, some people in the Vatican have got it wrong, I agree. That's happened before and it will happen again, but, as always, it will all come out right in the end!
"The Vatican" is a vague, though admittedly useful, cover-all term, but as we also have specifically Cardinal Trujillo I am happy to say that he has got something specifically wrong. A civil union, or partnership, is not "a legal fiction", but is a practical and very sensible concept, and it is not "an alternative to marriage", but is a distinct and separate institution in its own right with no relationship of any kind to marriage.
 

Arthur_Vandelay

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joxy said:
Yes, some people in the Vatican have got it wrong, I agree. That's happened before and it will happen again, but, as always, it will all come out right in the end!
"The Vatican" is a vague, though admittedly useful, cover-all term,
Perhaps it is vague: but I used it to refer to the "centre of power," as it were--the voice of Catholic officialdom. I didn't want to refer to Catholics in general, among whom there is bound to be a variety of opinions on this matter.

but as we also have specifically Cardinal Trujillo I am happy to say that he has got something specifically wrong. A civil union, or partnership, is not "a legal fiction", but is a practical and very sensible concept, and it is not "an alternative to marriage", but is a distinct and separate institution in its own right with no relationship of any kind to marriage.
But I think Trujillo's position emanates from a belief that any kind of legal recognition granted to same-sex unions would be "hostile to the family." And it is understandable why he might hold such a belief, given the statement from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith that "Those who would move from tolerance to the legitimization of specific rights for cohabiting homosexual persons need to be reminded that the approval or legalization of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil." Same-sex civil unions might be regarded as "evil," therefore, because, "Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.' They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved" (Catechism of the Catholic Church). Furthermore, "there is a danger that legislation which would make homosexuality a basis for entitlements could actually encourage a person with a homosexual orientation to declare his homosexuality or even to seek a partner in order to exploit the provisions of the law" (source). It is not difficult, therefore, to imagine that Trujillo's remarks echo the official Vatican position on same-sex civil unions. Hopefully, as you say, things will change.
 

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